My Struggle with Perioral Dermatitis

A lot of people often think as a beauty blogger that my skin is always perfect and glowing.  Ha!  So not the case.  I struggle like anyone else with skin issues and insecurities.  I really wanted to share my most recent skin care whoa with perioral dermatitis in hopes that it might help some of you.

Now let me throw out this disclaimer.  I am by no means a dermatologist…duh or a doctor but I’m merely sharing what worked for me after researching, and reading other stories.  Everyone is different and every case of perioral dermatitis is different.

Ok, so the cat’s out of the bag.  I had perioral dermatitis.  Now, some of  you may know right off the bat what I’m talking about and others may not.  Let me give you a quick overview of this skincare condition.

Perioral dermatitis is an inflammatory rash eruption involving the skin around the mouth. The rash may spread up to the nose or even the eyes. It usually appears as a scaly or bumpy rash around the lips. It can also sometimes weep clear fluid. Redness and slight itching and burning can also occur.

It’s looks a lot like a rash on your skin.  The condition is most common in women ages 15-45.

I first started to notice a difference in my skin around my left nose.  It spread out a little past the area, ending around my mouth.  It was red, dry, itchy, and scabby looking.  Eventually it spread to my chin area as well but not as bad.  It never was anywhere else on my body.  Now this happened right when I found out I was pregnant(I’m 35 weeks now).  So it was January and I thought oh my skin must just be extra dry due to the weather.  I exfoliated the skin around my nose and heavily moisturized daily.  It got worst.  The redness got redder, the flaking got flakier, and there were now raised bumps.  It had been six weeks since I first noticed it and realized it wasn’t just some mild dryness caused by the weather…something else was in play.

So to my computer I went.  I looked up every skincare issue I could think of and couldn’t put a finger on what it was.  Being an esthetician I’ve seen my fair share of skin issues, but this one had me stumped.  One night as I was reading I stumbled upon a blogger who had dealt with perioral dermatitis.  Bingo!  Why hadn’t I thought of it?  The symptoms and manner in which it was acting was par for the course for being perioral dermatitis.  I soon was reading every bit of info. I could find about this skin care condition.  Here’s a pic I found of the condition.  It can look worst, depending on the severity.


It can be really hard to pinpoint what causes perioral dermatitis but what I found was this:

  • Topical Steroid Creams
  • Makeup, Cleansers, Facial Products
  • Hormone Factors in Women
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Fluoride in Toothpaste
  • Exposure to Harsh Temps.
  • Birth Control Pills

I do think for most women it’s not a clear cut road in diagnosing the condition.  I think it can be an accumulation of factors that bring it about.  Personally, I wasn’t using any topical steroid creams(nor have I ever), I don’t use products with SLS, fluoride of course isn’t in my toothpaste, and Washington isn’t really known for harsh temps.  I was intrigued about the makeup, cleansers, and facial products being a cause, and quickly dove more into researching about it.  After all, that was one area I felt could be the culprit.  What I found is heavy creams, lotions and foundations can cause perioral dermatitis.  Really, the overuse and changing it up often can be the cause.  Well, that definitely was me.  As a green beauty blogger, I’m constantly switching up my skincare routine to try out new products.  Over the last year, it had been at an all time high.  Another cause that a lot of people don’t mention, but I found may be true with my situation is pregnancy.  Being pregnant, my hormones were obviously all over the place.  Also, gut flora can be out of balance when pregnant.  Having too much yeast in the gut is also a common issue among pregnant women, and this can cause a lot of skin issues.  Candida is the condition where there is an overgrowth of yeast.  It is a fungus.  I knew all of these things could be true in my case.

I also knew if I was to go and see a dermatologist they would quickly prescribe an antibiotic-typically how most people deal with the condition.  And more likely than not, negate all my findings.  Plus, from many stories I read, even those who took antibiotics for it ended up taking them a year later for a flare up.  I talked with my Naturopath about it, and he agreed it could be the above causes that I mentioned.  He also said it’s common for woman who are pregnant to have more yeast in their gut.

Now that I knew what it was and what might be causing it, I was ready to take action.

So what did I do:

  • Stopped using all products and switched to just a basic oil cleansing method with castor oil
  • Just used Argan oil for my moisturizer day and night but avoided the infected area
  • Avoided all heavy creams
  • Applied Zinc Oxide morning and night to the infected area.  Zinc is very soothing and I had read many stories of how it benefited those with perioral dermatitis(I used Honest’s Baby Dipaer Cream that has a zinc content of 14%)
  • I also avoided really hot water or really cold water, as to not aggravate it more
  • I didn’t exfoliate the area at all-you definitely don’t want to cause it to flare up more
  • I avoided high sugar foods and dairy-sugar feeds yeast and dairy causes inflammation
  • I made sure I was taking my probiotic everyday
  • I also halfway through started to use Mountain Rose Herbs Powerful Skin Compound-this really I believe is what kicked the perioral dermatitis for good.  My naturopath had recommended it to me.  He had patients who had used it for athlete’s foot(another fungal like infection) and had it cured.  It’s a salve consistency and I would put this on the last two months instead of the zinc cream.
  • I tried to avoid wearing makeup most days since it can aggravate and cause further inflammation


Can I be honest?  There were points where I wanted to just take something and have it go away.  I was so close to going to the drugstore and getting some over the counter anti-fungal cream.  I remember right before Indie Beauty Expo in early May thinking I would just give in and go the traditional prescription drug route.  After all, I didn’t want to show up to the blogger’s conference focused on beauty and have my skin acting up.  BUT, common sense and a strong desire to figure out the natural way is what caused me to keep on until it was completely gone.  Plus, being pregnant I didn’t want to put anything crazy on my body.  It got better over time too.  It wasn’t that bad at Indie Beauty Expo, and with makeup on probably not noticeable to most. So how long did I have it?  It first started the beginning of January and lasted until the very end of May.  My skin has been clear now for 2 months.  The typical time for it to clear up really depends from what I read.  Anywhere from months to a year.  Here is a recent unedited pic of my skin clear with no makeup on(except my brows).  I wish I would have taken a before picture when I had perioral dermatitis but honestly I was so grossed out by it I avoided

I noticed improvement each month.  I also felt avoiding makeup really was huge.  It would appear clearer and less red the days I didn’t wear any makeup.  Also, the combo of the zinc oxide and Mountain Rose Herb Salve really soothed and I believe help kill off the fungus.  What works for one person may not work for another, so don’t get discouraged!  The biggest factor with perioral dermatitis is the time it takes to help heal the area-don’t rush it.

Skin issues can be so annoying to deal with and at times, life altering in their own way.  I hope this post can shed some light on natural ways to cope with perioral dermatitis and give hope to those who are suffering from it.  Please leave me a comment if you’ve dealt with it, and what you did to help heal it!  Also, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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  • Reply
    July 29, 2016 at 9:46 am

    This was very insightful, Suzi! Loved reading about what you used to help clear it. I just know that you’re definitely helping someone out there who may be struggling themselves. Also, that Mountain Rose Herb Salve looks awesome! I need to get me some. 🙂

    • Reply
      July 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Aww, thanks Sammie! It can be so discouraging when you’re going through it but hopefully people can have some hope they’re not alone. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 29, 2016 at 10:08 am

    I’m also pregnant and developed PD! I upped my probiotic and started on Candidase, stopped exfoliating, and just kept my cleansing and moisturizing regimen super simple. It cleared up in 2-3 weeks!! I just had a little flare up and started the Candidase again about a week ago, and again noted significant improvement!! It’s not marketed for PD and check with your doctor before taking, but it’s worked wonderfully for me. I only take 1 pill/day, I think 3 is recommended but I never remember to bring them with me and I still see changes.

    • Reply
      July 29, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      So interesting! I’ve never heard of Candidase but I’ll look into it, thanks!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    This is so great! The desire to go OTC or mainstream can be so strong sometimes – I can totally relate to that. I appreciate your honesty, candor and your determination to find another way. You go girl!

    • Reply
      July 29, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Haha, thanks friend! It definitely can be strong at times but I always know there is a better way.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2016 at 6:49 am

    I had it last January and lasted for about 4 months. I thought it was just winter’s dry skin so I did all the wrong things. Exfoliate and moisturize, which only made it worse. I had a sample of a MOSS mask and I felt like it helped. I contacted them and she actually was able to diagnose it without ever seeing it. Went to the dermatologist and she confirmed. By that time it, I had stopped putting anything on it and cleared up on its on. Now unfortunately my 14 yo daughter has it. She’s using Osmia Organics charcoal bar. I think it’s helping but of course she is super frustrated. We just got back from the beach and I swear it looks better! Maybe the sun and sand helped!! Like you said, it’s different for everyone and the biggest thing you need is patience!

    • Reply
      August 6, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      I’m so sorry Shelia! I totally understand. It can be so hard to deal with. I’m glad the charcoal bar is helping!!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Oh and by the way, my dermatologist did prescribe antibiotics and I took them. I was desperate, looking back I think it was ready to clear up in its own. Thankfully she didn’t try and prescribe steroid cream.

  • Reply
    cara hilangkan eksim
    September 7, 2016 at 12:13 am

    thank you very much for information about the disease dermatitis, very helpful.

    • Reply
      September 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Your welcome, I’m glad it helped!

  • Reply
    Osmia Organics Review - Gurl Gone Green
    November 18, 2016 at 8:51 am

    […] for perioral dermatitis too.  (Check out my full review of my experience with perioral dermatitis here).  I have a soap saver from Osmia that I use with this soap as well and love.  If you’ve […]

  • Reply
    December 20, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    My experience with perioral dermatitis started last spring with the change of seasons. I went to the doctor who wanted to prescribe antibiotics but I didn’t want to go that route so started reading about the condition and put the suggestions others have tried into action. Sure enough, after a couple months it was gone. However it returned this November, along with the dry fall air. I’m taking a probiotic daily and using the original Bag Balm on it. I remembered when I was a kid I had contact dermatitis and the only thing that helped was Bag Balm. We will see how long it lasts this time. I am in my 70’s so not in the normal age range for this aggravating skin condition.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you so much for the tip on the zinc. The baby rash cream was finally the one thing that calmed my face down and started the healing process. I tried everything else. I found the Burts Bee to work great!

    • Reply
      March 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Oh awesome! So glad it helped. I agree-zinc is very soothing.

  • Reply
    May 17, 2017 at 7:25 am

    How often and what times of day did you use the skin compound for? I purchased it after reading your post, i have also been using the osmia black clay soap and facial cream recommended for perioral dermatitis.

    • Reply
      May 17, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      I used it morning and night! It really worked for me!

      • Reply
        May 28, 2017 at 5:50 pm

        Do you think it shld be used in conjunction with the zinc cream? How long did you find it took to clear up? I have been struggling since the winter now! 🙁 been using the skin compound you used for about 2 weeks straight

  • Reply
    June 25, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Do you still use the Mountain Rose Herb product even though your PD has gone away? I struggled with it for about 5 months as well and what I believe helped me the most was eating super clean (avoiding all sugar and alcohol is a must) and using Osmia skincare products. Their black clay face soap is amazing – and the company is in existence because the founder had PD too and wanted a natural treatment. Great to support small biz too. <3 Looking forward to diving more into your site – love what you're about!

    • Reply
      June 30, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      I don’t anymore. Yes, I know Sarah the founders store and actually have met her and talked with her about it. She’s amazing! The soap didn’t work for my skin unfortunately. But I think it’s a great product. What really helped me was the zinc oxide and the mountain rose her salve. Every skin type is so different though. I agree that diet can be huge from what I read. I really think mine was brought on by pregnancy. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 13, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I just self diagnosed myself with this horrible condition… i’ve been struggling for months now after 43 years of clear skin.. what a frustration! I was on the right ttack though… i used a cortisone on my skin that actually caused a tiny rash to explode… abd every and anything i tried stung and worsened it. My gutfeel was that i reacted either to makeup or a cream of sunscreen. So i stopped everything and litterally just washed with and applied aqueous cream. It helped alot… until i had a facial and was given creams to use as a test… it flared up big time. I tried the fungal cream and it seems to help.. but the frustrating part was not knowing what was wrong… i actually googled.. skin condition starting from corner of nose… and boom… got it.. i thought it was eksema or a fungal infection or worse. At least i know what it entails and that my gut feel.. re natural… is on par. Thanks for your informative column. I’ll be buying the baby cream tomorrow!

  • Reply
    August 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story!
    I am having a hard time distinguishing between perioral dermatitis and hormonal acne. My bumps and redness are generally only around the mouth, nose, and jawline. I had previously seen my family doctor and she thought it was PD, so prescribed me antibiotics. I was on the pills for a couple of months before deciding I didn’t want to continue with them for many reasons. I’ve always thought my condition was more hormonal – my skin does not get those scaly, itchy patches. So, how do I know if it’s PD or just adult acne? Thanks!

    • Reply
      September 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      I think it’s PD? From the sounds of it. I don’t associate dry scaly patches with acne? If you type in PD online there should be pics that pop up to help you distinguish.

  • Reply
    Tina Jones
    September 7, 2017 at 3:15 am

    Thank you for your advice. I have had perioral dermatitis for about 3 or 4 months now. It has brought on many a tear. It came out of nowhere. Im not pregnant and hadnt changed any of my diet or beauty products. Since getting it i have probably tried about 6 different creams. Some worked for about a week and then returned. My doctor is desperate for me to try antibiotics but im refusing. I will go to the chemist this weekend to try and find the mountain rose skin compound and zinc oxide. I may also purchase some probiotics. Any recommendation on which type? I am also intrigued by the candidase tablets so may get them too. I will do anything and pay anything for this nightmare to stop. Just as long as its not those dreaded antibiotic pills…. Cant wait to walk around make up free again 🙁

    • Reply
      September 7, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Girl, I feel ya! I take Seeking Health’s Probiotics- really like them!

  • Reply
    September 29, 2017 at 11:06 am

    By the way, in terms of relief: the best thing I have found for instant relief (thanks to another blog) is a paste made of olive oil and icing sugar. Leave it on for as long as possible and apply as often as possible. It’s the ONLY thing I have found that relieves the burning INSTANTLY. In terms of getting rid of PD, this paste does work, but over a few days. The thing that gets rid of it quickly for me, is two to three sessions on a sunbed. I have to use it on successive days (if I leave gap days, the effect is negated) and ‘zap’ it – for about 8 minutes each time (of course, you should use a time length suitable for your skin. Too few minutes don’t have any effect for me). After the two to three sessions, it goes. I go as soon as the burn starts. Fluconazole (one or two days’ worth of tablets) also helps. If the PD is bad, I use it in conjunction with the sunbed. Antibiotics made no difference and personally, I would avoid slapping different products on that will have no effect.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    Mine seems to flare up with stress. I tried limiting to just natural oils for cleansing, using charcoal soap, putting yogurt on my face, upping probiotics, cutting alcohol, switching to sls-free cleansers, and even put clotrimazole for athletes foot on my face. What really helped was zinc soap. Dermaharmony soap from Amazon feels pretty drying but it is the only thing that really made a noticeable difference. I tried reintroducing oils and it flared right up again. So for now the zinc soap and occasional yogurt mask are my solution…and it has been a godsend. Never thought of zinc cream! Might be nice to alternate the cream and the soap so it’s less drying. But seriously, for fellow PD sufferers…zinc soap made it like 90 percent better in 2 days.

    • Reply
      October 13, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      That’s great you found something that works for you! I agree with zinc- that’s what helped me so much! I’ve never heard of that zinc soap- thanks for telling me!

  • Reply
    Sally Teny
    October 25, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I can’t even describe how happy I am that I ran across this post! I’ve been struggling with PD for a while now. I finally gave in and went to the dermatologist this week (Silly me!! I thought they would have a solution) but I ended up leaving their office discouraged and disappointed with the possible solutions they offered (pills, cleansers (full of bad ingredients), and topical creams). I had almost given up hope of finding a clean solution to PD- that is until I found this post. Thank you for sharing your struggle and the remedies that worked for you.

    • Reply
      October 25, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      This made my day!! Thanks so much! I really hope it helps. It can be the worst thing. But the tips really worked! Let me know how it goes.

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